The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) formed in 1959. They were a group of student activists whose intentions in the beginning was to help out with the civil rights movement and improve living conditions in the ghettos throughout the U.S.. Later the group became heavily involved protesting the Vietnam War. SDS started out as a non-violent activist group but slowly became more militant. In 1969 the SDS split into separate factions, the Progressive Labor Party, the Revolutionary Union and the Weathermen.
The Weathermen were a group of extreme left-wing radicals who caused problems in the U.S. They took their name from a line in the Bob Dylan song Subterranean Homesick Blues ("You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"). They emerged in 1969 and issued a "manifesto" (calling for armed opposition to U.S. policies; advocating the overthrow of capitalization; exhorting white radicals. They believed peaceful demonstrations were ineffective. The Weathermen were widely criticized for the use of violence and some accused the group of terrorism.
The Weathermen's first public demonstration was in October 1969 and became known as the "Days of Rage" protest. They chose Chicago because they wanted revenge on the Chicago Police Department, who had brutally beaten several demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic Convention. The Weathermen decided to blow up a statue dedicated to the eight policemen who had been killed in the Haymarket Labor Riot in 1886, in Chicago's Haymarket Square. Hundreds of windows shattered from the explosion. The police became aware of their presence. The following evening 300 people, members and supporters showed up and all were heavily armed, many had helmets, goggles, gas masks, clubs, lead pipes, brass knuckles and baseball bats. The police reported hearing the group shout out "Battle of Algiers" war cries. The group flooded the streets ravaging the business district, smashing windows and...